[On March 18th and 19th, 2013 OCLC and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries held a forum on MOOCs and Libraries. This is the sixth in a short series of postings on that event. You can read other postings on this topic in the archives, and check out all of the deliverable on the event page.]
For our MOOCs and Libraries event, it was important to come away with concrete of opportunities for librarians — hopefully now that we have a cohort of attendees (in person attendees, remote attendees, and those of you who have watched the videos, reviewed the Twitter stream, and read these summaries!) there are some positive and meaningful ways that librarians can engage with MOOCs. To help the end of the day on both Monday and Tuesday, my colleague Chrystie Hill led us in small group discussions. (We also tried to include the remote audience in the discussions, with mixed results).
The questions for discussion were:
What have you learned here today?
What are the implications for your library?
What should you or your organization do next?
What are the key strategic moves that libraries should make in regards to MOOCs?
On the last point, the small groups were asked to come up with their top three recommendations. Then as a whole, we heard all the “top three” from each table. Not surprisingly, there was quite a bit of overlap, and my colleague Dale Musselman nicely transcribed and organized the outcomes into 9 rough categories.
Get the library involved
Start talking/collaborating/sharing between libraries
Get in front of licensing and access
Support MOOC faculty
Support MOOC students
Create in-person support opportunities
Re-assess library assumptions and practices
Of these, from my perspective, the things that every librarian can do is to take a MOOC, and contribute to the conversation by listening to others who have been invovled in MOOCs, and sharing information and experiences.
My thanks to Chrystie for structuring and facilitating this sessions, and to Dale for helping to organize the outcomes document.
[This is the fifth in a short series on the forum on MOOCs and Libraries held by OCLC and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, March 18th and 19th, 2013. Look back to the archives for earlier posting on this topic]
MOOC Audiences by *s@lly*, on Flickr, cc-by-nc
We wrapped up the content portion of our meeting by reflecting on the audience for MOOCs (or what we know about participants), and also considering the audience through the lens of public libraries (which I admit, I don’t think about a lot of the time, except when I’m acting as a patron). I find the role (or potential role) for public libraries in MOOCs to be very exciting, and I think you’ll see why if you read the summary or watch the video of Margaret Todd’s talk.
We heard first from Howard Lurie (Vice President, Content Development, edX), who said he was from the “other platform.” (Although we tried to balance the program, many of the presenters were from “Coursera” institutions — I don’t think the platform matters all that much when talking about the library’s role in MOOCs, but there you have it.) According to Lurie, MOOCs provide an opportunity to look at learning/pedogogy through the lens of “big data” gathered during course implementation. Even with “low” completion rates the numbers are still quite high. Taking one edX class as an example (6.002x, Circuits and Electronics): 154,763 registered for the class; 26,349 tried the first problem set; 10,547 took the mid term; 9,318 passed the mid term; 8,240 took the final exam; 7,157 received certification. This is a lot of data to analyize that could help improve teaching — it would take many years of iterating a class in a traditional setting to get to those numbers (and of course, Audrey Watters would ask as she did in an excellent talk at WebWise, “Whose educational data is it?”) As with many presentations on MOOCs I’ve heard recently, Lurie highlighted “global stories” reflecting exposure to a topic for those who might not have had the opportunity otherwise (such as the Pakistani participant who said “this course was the most important experience in my life” One role for MOOCs might be to gather stories of learners around the world, and help universities identify talent.
Next we heard from Deirdre Woods (Interim Executive Director, Open Learning Initiative, University of Pennsylvania) who joked that in this environment, being around for a number of months makes you an old timer. Penn’s is in the open learning business because it’s a public good, and also because it’s good for Penn — online courses provides prospective students a taste of what they might expect from the college before they make a commitment. It’s also a good way to stay in touch with alumni. Woods shared that the faculty who have taught MOOCs acknowledge that it’s a huge undertaking but all say they would do it again. Part of the satisfaction? Faculty members reach more people in one course than in entire career. A little more about participants demographics: the majority of participants in Penn MOOCs were working in full time positions. 65% are male (they aren’t sure why). 30% of participants hang in through the duration of the course, but don’t do assignments.
Finally, we heard from Margaret Donnellan Todd (County Librarian, County of Los Angeles Public Library). Right now, LACoPL is loved and trusted by the community; as evidence of this, county residents recently voted to increase library funding. Not content to rest of their laurels, LACoPL has identified online relevance as an important component of their strategic plan. And the library has a challenge in terms of serving an educational shortfall in their community. Right now high school dropout rates are at about 40%, and community college graduation rates are low. Higher education in California (as elsewhere) is increasingly squeezed, and the option to go to community college in order to catch up, is no longer an option for all. All of these factors will lead to a decline in a local qualified workforce. With fewer and fewer options, LACoPL has begun to see itself as a center of learning, and positioning itself to support very practical and real educational educational needs. Public libraries excel at connecting people to services, partners, and peers. At an academic institution, MOOCs are an extension of existing online presence; in public libraries, MOOCs (and support for those taking MOOCs) may be an extension of their broad public education mission. Todd described how LACoPL has experimented with offering course through Ed2Go — even with little promotion, these courses have been very popular. What might be possible if public libraries extended their online courses, or worked with material being produced in MOOCs? One desire expressed by participants in MOOCs has been a need for a common space to come together with others taking the same class. Why not the public library as that space?
N.B. You may have noticed that in these postings, I purposefully am referring to those who take MOOCs as “participants” and not “students.” That’s a purposeful choice on my part. I don’t think we know enough about who is taking MOOCs and why to label them as students yet.
[This is the fourth posting in a short series on the forum on MOOCs and Libraries held by OCLC and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, March 18th and 19th, 2013.]
This, alongside the copyright session, was the most meaty in terms of seeing where libraries are currently connecting with MOOCs — as I learned during my investigations, there are a lot of people with opinions about MOOCs and libraries, but not many folks with hands on experience. This session focused on where library research skills fit into MOOCs, where that might take us.
The panel was moderated by Marjorie Hassen (Director of Teaching, Research, and Learning Services, University of Pennsylvania Libraries) with participation by Sarah Bordac (Head, Instructional Design, Brown University), Jennifer Dorner (Head, Instruction and User Services, University of California Berkeley), and Lynne O’Brien (Director of Academic Technology and Instructional Services, Duke University). You can watch the video and / or read my summary of the event below.
This panel featured perspectives from both Coursera (Duke and Brown) and edX (UC Berkeley) institutions, as well as from librarians who have been involved with a number of courses (Duke) to those who are still preparing for launch day (Brown). For those who have been in the game or on the sidelines, “MOOCs create the perfect storm for new ways of thinking about things” quipped O’Brien. And if people go to MOOCs to learn, it’s critical for libraries to be involved. The question is, what is the right level of support, and where to invest? As a first steps, the pedagogical needs for a course need to be outlined before you can judge what the role of the libraries is, and where library support makes sense. For example, at Berkeley, courses on math and computer science don’t have library related learning objectives. A good exercise for those at academic institutions might be to scan the course catalog and ask what library support is currently offered for each course — in an online environment, expect support to be similar. Is the main focus of support given to faculty who are planning the course, or to participants who are taking the course? For those who are taking courses, librarians may serve a role that’s more like an information guide rather than an information provider.
Certainly looking anew at teaching creates opportunities for cross campus teams. At Brown University (and elsewhere), the library is involved in a number of these teams, which positions the library strategically and helps the library act in a “connector” role. At some institutions, such as UC Berkeley, online learning has not been centrally coordinated, which allows for creativity in course development but makes it difficult for the library to get involved.
Dorner shared information about two library-based edX groups, one studying “content accessibility” (copyright) and another looking at “research skills.” Both groups will issue reports and recommendations, and those reports will be shared.
You can’t fully understand and appreciate any technology unless you use it. In MOOCs, there are two layers of experience — that of an course participant, and that of an administrator on the platform.
Another reason to take a MOOC — you can see the degree to which students share information resources among themselves.
[OCLC and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries held a forum on MOOCs and Libraries on March 18th and 19th, 2013. This is the third in a short series on that event.]
One of the great advantages to partnering with the University of Pennsylvania on this event is that they have been through several rounds of course production, so they know the ropes. And even though this event focused on MOOCs and libraries, we did think it would be good for the audience to learn a little bit about course production. Like most of our attendees, I have no experience with MOOC production (although I have takenthreeMOOCs — I stop at nothing in my quest to bring you information!). Having had some experience on the student or participant side, it was great to glimpse behind the curtain.
I’ll summarize this session below, but here’s my advice for learning more if most of what you’ve done is read about MOOCs in the press. Take a class or two (while you do it, try to think about the role of the library in relationship to the learning objectives for the class). And watch this session to learn a little more about the variety of production styles, and what goes into making a MOOC.
The panel was expertly moderated by Bruce Lenthall (Director of Center for Teaching and Learning) and included participation by Christian Terwiesch (Wharton School Faculty), Jackie Candido (Online Learning & Digital Engagement, School of Arts and Sciences), Amy Bennett (Penn Open Learning), and Anna Delaney (Perelman School of Medicine).
Before the panel discussion Terwiesch spoke briefly about his experience teaching a Coursera class called “Introduction to Operations Management” that is an adaptation of a course he has been teaching for some time at the Wharton School. From his perspective, the economics of MOOCs are simple: more learning with the same resources. He wants everyone to think about process management principles, in order to make life better, and MOOCs are a great way to do that. (I have to admit having heard him speak passionately about his class, I’ve rashly signed up to take it — maybe some of you will, too?)
The panel offered advice and perspectives on production, covering some basics. The ideal timeline for production is about six months: build, promote, enroll (although it can be done in less time). MOOCs are more than just a professor in a video frame — they need instruction design. Streamlining course content is critical with MOOCs — it doesn’t work to take an existing class and plug it into a MOOC. Faculty content is the most obvious component but it’s not all. In an online environment, clear written communication is key. Having a good microphone and a way to engage with the students (forum, blog, wiki, but something that will work at scale!) are two very critical components. Be on guard against technical gotchas. Pay attention to small details; remember that once the material is out, it’s out!
There was an interesting thread around “success” — what are measurements to know when you are there? Returning to the theme for copyright, panelists suggested that “it depends!” Part of this is related to goals set by faculty for students, and therefore is a mater of personal style and preferences. Terwiesch suggested that success is changing what you do for the better. The right team (which right now is people doing work on top of their regular job, with no additional funding) is critical for success. Most good team members are described as doing the work because they are dedicated and passionate (and I would add, they probably are not intimidated by experimentation). The question of completion rates as a measure of success came up, and panelists (and others) pushed back on this: it’s not appropriate to assess completion of a MOOC with the same metrics used with traditional classrooms or even with a “traditional online course” (I love this phrase!).
The panelists also shared what they thought might be key roles for libraries. One area highlighted was organizing and making sense of information contributed by participants; in the Terwiesch course, there was a whole range of user generated content on process management. The suggestion of this type of curation on a massive scale got pushback from the audience, as did the idea of having embedded librarians (“with thousands of students, would we have enough staff?”). Other ideas seemed more attainable: providing pointers to open resources for faculty, and pointer to online communities and other resources for students (perhaps in a dedicated discussion thread). Helping to educate course TAs about resources for to students. Helping to structure discussion forums ahead of time (speaking from personal experience, these can be very wild and woolly).
In summary, all of the panelists conveyed their enthusiasm about MOOCs. Despite relatively low levels of completion, they were energized by the large numbers of highly engaged. In the end, it’s not so much about massiveness, but about human connection and excitement that can be generated, and the community that can be formed.
[OCLC and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries held a forum on MOOCs and Libraries on March 18th and 19th. This is the second post in a short series on that event.]
As I learned from my interviews from librarians who are engaging with MOOCs, one of the main points of engagement for libraries (in fact, sometimes the only point of engagement!) is around licensing and clearing copyright for materials used in courses, or giving advice to others on these topics. We were fortunate to attract three excellent speakers on this topic: Kevin Smith (Scholarly Communications Officer, Duke University), Kenny Crews (Director, Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University), and Kyle K. Courtney (Manager of Faculty Research and Scholarship, Harvard Law School). It was great that we had representation from both Coursera and edX partner institutions. I am also grateful to Brandon Butler (Director of Public Policy Initiatives, Association of Research Libraries) for agreeing to moderate the session.
The group opted to cover the content in a Q & A format, with Butler pitching questions to the panelists. The group met once, briefly, by phone ahead of the meeting, but the smooth and easy exchange made it seem as if they has been working on their presentation for a much longer period of time. Of course the discussion was filled with copyright favorites, like “it depends,” but it was relatively light on the jargon. The panel was not only enjoyable, but following the session, I felt considerably more cheerful about issues around MOOCs and intellectual property. My somewhat out-of-order summary is below, but I commend the video to you — I’m tempted to call it “best of show,” because I had so many people tell me that they were surprised at how much they enjoyed it!
Butler started the session by highlighting that putting materials online brings issues around copyright to the forefront, making it a high stakes area for libraries. However, avoiding copyright issues altogether is also an area of risk for libraries; if MOOCs represent a cornerstone in online learning, where are the (mostly in-copyright and licensed) resources that libraries steward? The conversation flowed around several themes: permissions and licensing, fair use, linking, who owns the material created in MOOCs, open access, and continued advocacy.
Permissions and licensing:
Although it’s a very basic first step, reading and understanding licences (and what they do and not allow) is key, since use depends on what the license says. If possible future agreements should allow for the use of materials in MOOCs. Because of the importance of agreements, librarians who deal with licensing may become, according to Crews, “the most important person in the building.” If use is not covered under a licence, request permission. Don’t be shocked if you don’t get an answer. At Duke, experiences with getting permissions quite varied — most often there is no response. Sometimes you get a yes, other times an ask for a big fee. Try to appeal to the “marketing opportunity” inherent in a course with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of eyeballs. Dealing with permissions and licensing is something that edX institutions generally try to avoid, relying instead on fair use and open resources, Courtney explained,
Smith started with a note of caution on fair use; copyrighted materials should be used with care especially because of the large online audience, and use should be clearly tied to criticism and commentary, or is being used in a way that could be considered transformative. However, he firmly reinforced that it’s important to push on fair use because in this environment, it’s impractical not to. Panelists offered words of caution and instruction: it’s important to work with faculty and others on the production team to make sure that embedded materials are only what’s needed for the specific pedagogical purpose. As an example, if you are referring to a Monty Python film, use only the small bit that’s being commented on, and link out to an authorized version of the video on YouTube or elsewhere. Kevin Smith on MOOC fair use of Monty Python video: Linked to authorized YouTube copy, copied small bits specifically commented on. Which brings me to…
This surprised me and is both a practical and inventive copyright workaround. If you can’t get permission or make a fair use case. Provide a link to materials online elsewhere. If you can’t embed the materials, cite them and leave students to find them on their own.
Who owns the MOOC?:
This can be a complicated question, and of course some of this depends on the agreement with the platform partner. Depending on your campus environment, work may be considered “work for hire,” with copyright held by the university. In courses with complicated production you may have many creators. Best practice would be to understand the terms, bring all relevant players together, and get written, signed agreements in order to have clear lines around who owns MOOC content.
Working with faculty around these complex issues can help to reinforce the central importance of convincing faculty to retain their copyright, and to take charge in being “good stewards” of their own intellectual property. And of course if it’s an open, you can ask faculty who teach MOOCs to make their materials open access. (I will add a personal observation that I don’t believe that MOOCs are likely to be the turning point with faculty in regards to copyright or open access issues — I think that is more likely to happen due to pressure in their individual disciplines, but that’s just a hunch.)
Remember that libraries are involved in both “risk mitigation and education maximization.” Crews said, if you rely on fair use, you will sometimes need to say “no” to faculty, but we can also help find suitable replacement content. Librarians can play an important role in not only giving fair use guidance and seek permissions, but also recommend public domain or openly licensed resources that could be freely used. And of course, sharing information with one another is a form of advocacy.
Some useful, additional tidbits:
If you are called out on copyright, the first thing to happen is not a lawsuit, it’s a takedown.
Steer clear of using in-copyright humorous images just for the “LOL factor.”
OCLC and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries held a forum on MOOCs and Libraries on March 18th and 19th. This is the first post in a short series on that event. You can also check out the event page for links to videos, presenters’ slides, and more!
It’s been a few weeks, but it still feels like I’m catching my breath following our well attended (and I think successful!) forum, MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge? This event was an attempt to get beyond the plethora of what I’d call “MOOC 101″ and instead focus on the issues facing libraries that are engaging or may soon be engaging with MOOCs. I was fortunate to be tasked with such an engaging topic, and doubly fortunate to team up with Martha Brogan at the University of Pennsylvania and her colleagues (Anuradha Vedantham, Shawn Martin, and Marjorie Hassen) — the University of Pennsylvania Libraries were perfect partners because they haven’t just been thinking about MOOCs, they have been actively engaged with all aspects of MOOCs from planning, to production, to assessment. U. Penn was an early implementer on the Coursera platform, and have now been through several course cycles. I was also fortunate to work with my colleague Chrystie Hill, who lead the charge in bringing public library voices into the event. I was also fortunate, in event planning, to be able to draw upon the expertise resident in the OCLC Research Library Partnership — in November of 2012, I knew little more about MOOCs than what was covered in the popular press. I was educated by colleagues who are working in the field, who spoke from a basis of knowledge and experience, and who were willing to share with me via phone conversations and emails during December and January (my findings are summarized in an earlier post, MOOCs and Libraries: a look at the landscape).
We had a sell out crowd of 125 people attend in person and record breaking online attendance of over 400 (hardly MOOC like, but for sustained attention from afar, it’s very good). We were also fortunate to have a very strong Twitter stream, with contributions from both in person and remote attendees, which helped to “amplify” the event. And we have a record of the meeting in the recorded video (which you may enjoy watching!). Still, I think it’s important to have a summary of the meeting and some notable outcomes. I hope that some of you who attended (or who are able to watch the videos) will join in the conversation. And keep the conversation going by using the hash #mooclib when blogging or Tweeting on this topic.
Carton Rogers, Vice Provost & Director of Penn Libraries, and Ed Rock, Provost and Director of Open Course Initiatives, helped to set the scene for the group. Rogers underscored the confluence of support that the Penn Libraries provide to support learning — library resources, repository services, and courseware support. Deep engagement with Penn’s MOOC efforts was a natural next step for the library, and led to Penn’s hosting this first-of-a-kind meeting. Rock expanded on this, addressing, “Why MOOCs, why Penn, why now?”
The internet, Rock asserted, is now a place of learning so naturally one expects to find the university there. However, there is no one cookie cutter model for how universities engage with MOOCs — each institution needs to think out the role of MOOCs in their own framework. It’s already clear, from the Penn experience, that engaging with MOOCs has altered how people think about teaching — and this is a good thing. They’ve also seen that MOOCs can be used as an intervention in public discourse (a good example of this is the Penn course on vaccines). Rock also emphasized the democratic nature of MOOCs, with participants from residents in assisted living facilities, to autistic children, these courses are open to all ages and stages. He also speculated a bit about the role of the MOOC in a residential college setting — successful completion of a course that is eligible may be treated like an AP course — there is already a system for this in place. Or, a MOOC may be useful in helping students prepare for and test out of gateway classes.
Jim Michalko, Vice President OCLC Research (and a self confessed MOOC virgin), shared some context about MOOCs and online learning; we’ve been here before — or have we? What we have definitely seen before is the media frenzy around online learning or even distance learning — he referenced correspondence courses, Fathom, and Khan Academy, all of which are part of the heritage of what he called “the big three”: Udacity, EdX and Coursera which only launched a year ago. However, this time may well be different — Michalko cited Bill Bowen’s The ‚ÄėCost Disease‚Äô
in Higher Education: Is Technology the Answer? as evidence of a “broken business model,” leaving institutions ripe for disruption (√† la Clayton Christensen).
In closing he asked some pointed questions: “what business are we in?” “where is the venue for elite education online?” “are institutions engaging in a prestige arms race?” Finally, he predicted a platform war with MOOCs: “not everyone’s going to win.”
My presentation picked up where Jim left off: in all of this, where is the library? I presented findings from my research (which I have summarized previously): libraries are engaging in issues around copyright and IP, and are actively looking to see how to appropriately embed library services and research skills into these new and evoloving environments. Encouragingly, some libraries are part of the core teams being formed on campus which are planning and executing on MOOCs — these partnerships are vital, especially if MOOCs are seen as important to the campus. To be blunt, if it’s politically important, libraries need to be there. I also touched on the exciting ways that public libraries are thinking about MOOCs — not necessarily from the production side, but from the perspective of how these educational tools may fill a need for the diverse audiences they serve.
MOOCs (and online education) is a space in which things are evolving quite rapidly. I think it‚Äôs too soon for best practices, or declarations of success or failure. I think it‚Äôs a great time for experimentation, for trying things (and strategic abandonment!). This is also a perfect time to share the results of experiments. We are excited that this meeting was a step in that direction, and an important opportunity to share information with one another. But we’re not done yet — we’re at the beginning, not the end.
Next up, I’ll be summarizing the session on copyright, licensing and open access, so stay tuned!
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that MOOCs have been causing a bit of a stir in the academic sector. In the last year, MOOCs have exploded, from a handful of early innovators, to dozens of elite institutions becoming partners with organizations like Coursera, edX, and in the UK, the Open University lead FutureLearn venture. The reasons for this are many, well-documented, and also highly debated. Instead of reviewing what you can read elsewhere, I’d like to focus on the relationship between MOOCs and libraries. Here’s what I was curious about: What is the connection between MOOCs and libraries? What‚Äôs happening now and where are the opportunities?
To answer my question, I reached out to members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. This group comprises 20 of 32 Coursera institutions; 3 of 6 edX institutions; and 4 of 12 FutureLearn institutions. I was fortunate to have either an email exchange or (even better) a phone call with nearly everyone I contacted. This information from those in the trenches has been invaluable. In these exchanges, I asked my basic questions: what are you doing now? what do you think the next steps are? As expected, a number of themes have emerged, along with a wide variety of attitudes (from white knuckle fear to excitement, and everything in between ). Below is a summary of what I’ve learned so far.
FutureLearn has not quite fully launched yet, but the libraries at those institutions are planning to work with one another (good news). Within edX, the librarians have also formed an informal network (more good news). Within the larger Coursera network of institutions, there is no similar alliance of librarians.
Here are some some of the themes that have emerged:
On the content side, most institutions are engaging with some sort of copyright or licensing negotiations, or are ensuring that materials used in courses are cleared for use in that context (this does not necessarily add up to making materials open access). At some institutions, this is a time consuming (and obviously not scalable) activity. With many institutions, this is really the only point of contact with MOOCs.
In that vein, I spoke to a few people who are cautiously optimistic about MOOC implementation being a great opportunity to have an impactful conversation about open access publications or learning objects with faculty.
Most of those I spoke with acknowledged that MOOCs could be a great opportunity for their campus to rethink teaching on campus — MOOCs provide a sandbox for experimentation, a place to test what works, what doesn’t, and an environment where findings can be driven back into the next iteration. This can be done, in part, through the collection and analysis of data. This fits with the current emphasis in libraries (and elsewhere) on data collection, and assessment.
Along with this, there‚Äôs an opportunity for libraries to think anew about library instruction and the role that library research plays in a MOOC or “flipped” environment.
There are also opportunities for partnerships. Some libraries may use the MOOC experiment as an opportunity to work with other units on campus, and to draw attention to what the library brings to the campus ‚Äúteam.‚ÄĚ. This is also an opportunity to work with faculty and instructors in new ways (or for a new reason). At a time when academic libraries are casting about for recasting the research services they offer, it may also be a good time to reframe teaching support.
I did these interviews as background for an event we’ve been planning together with the University of Pennsylvania Libraries (and which I’m pleased to announce!) “MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge?” March 18-19. We’re still shaping the program and confirming speakers, but if you check out the event page, you will see the various themes we’ll be covering.
Do you have other ideas? Want to be part of the conversation? Leave a comment here, send me an email, or Tweet under the hash #mooclib. I look forward to hearing from you!
HangingTogether is a place where some of the staff at OCLC Research, particularly those of us who support the OCLC Research Library Partnership, can talk about the intersections we see happening between these different types of institutions. We visit partners, go to conferences, and take note of the interesting things we see along the way. Stop in, stay awhile, and hang out.
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. Benjamin Franklin